18 October 2004
Commercial print and broadcast media in South Africa will pay R10-million over the next five years towards the development of community newspapers and radio stations, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) said in Pretoria on Friday.
The funding, to which the government will add another R7-million, will be paid over the next five years by media groups CTP Limited (Caxton), e-TV, Independent Newspapers, Johnnic Publishing, Kagiso Broadcasting, Media24, M-Net, Primedia Broadcasting and the SABC.
MDDA chairperson Kanyi Mkonza told reporters at the Union Buildings that the agency was now officially “up and running” after 18 months of negotiations between the government and media houses.
The MDDA, an independent statutory body funded by the government and the commercial media, was set up under the MDDA Act of 2002 to promote media diversity and development in the country by providing support to community and small commercial media.
The agency disburses grants to community, small commercial and media research projects in four cycles each year.
Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad said the funds would benefit not only community media but also the major media groups because it would establish a culture of reading, thus broadening the audience base for the mainstream media.
“The more we encourage people to read and write, the better for us as a country”, Pahad said. “This is a way to look at capacity building and imparting skills to our communities.”
Pahad said he believed the MDDA model would be franchised around the world. “There is no doubt in my mind that other countries will look at the MDDA for what they want to do”, he said.
Johnnic chairperson Connie Molusi echoed Pahad, saying the private sector’s investment in community media would benefit the industry as a whole, and would help diversify voices to sustain the country’s democracy.
The MDDA disbursed its first round of grants for 20 projects in January and May 2004, with grants for a further 15 projects approved in August.
Among the beneficiaries were community radio stations Moutse in Mpumalanga, Mohodi Moletjie in Limpopo, Kathorus FM and Radio Mams in Gauteng, and Taemaneng in Northern Cape.
Community newspapers that have benefited so far include Nkomazi: The Voice in Mpumalanga, Seipone in Limpopo, Homeless Talk and Thembisa News in Gauteng, and Siyaya in the Eastern Cape.
CTP Limited (Caxton), e-TV, Independent Newspapers, Johnnic Publishing, Kagiso Broadcasting, Media24, M-Net, Primedia Broadcasting and the SABC are all represented on the MDDA board.